'Lack of confidence' is harming sex education

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The Independent Online

Most teachers lack the confidence to teach sex education adequately, the National Association of Headteachers (NAHT) said yesterday.

The Association called for "urgent" improvements after a survey found that four out of five teachers felt they lacked either the resources or the confidence to teach the subject well.

Among the main barriers was the universal embarrassment among schoolchildren about asking questions, followed by the teachers' lack of training. The survey was conducted by the NAHT, the National Governors Association, and the National Confederation of Parent Teachers Association (NCPTA).

Sion Humphreys, of the NAHT's education department, said: "Teachers have not been adequately trained to deliver it [sex education] and have not had the access to the range of resources they need. This is an urgent need that must be addressed if we are to be able to prepare young people for their future lives." Among the suggestions for improvements was the consideration of more resources such as DVDs, as well as the consideration of guest speakers in a bid to alleviate the workload of teachers. Fewer than one in 10 teachers and only 15 per cent of parents said that they found current teaching materials "very useful".

More than a quarter of teachers felt their sex education classes prepared pupils "not well" or "not at all well". More than eight out of 10 parents said sex and relationship education (SRE) should also be delivered at home, but only six out of 10 felt confident about broaching the subject.

David Butler, chief executive of NCPTA, said: "We owe it to children to get this right. If SRE lessons aren't preparing children properly for life as adults, they need to be improved. More needs to be done to ensure teachers are trained in how to deliver sex education. To do this effectively, parents need more information about what children are learning and specific resources to use with their children."

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